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Accommodation file image Shutterstock
Emergency Accommodation

Human rights watchdog expresses 'deep concern' at possible shortfall in asylum seeker accommodation

On Tuesday, the Government acknowledged that there is a ‘real possibility’ of a shortfall in asylum seeker accommodation in the coming days.

THE IRISH HUMAN Rights and Equality Commission has written to the Equality Minister to express its “deep concern at reports of a shortfall in emergency accommodation for International Protection applicants”.

This week, the Government acknowledged that there is a “real possibility” of a shortfall in asylum seeker accommodation in the coming days.

Speaking on Tuesday, Tánaiste Micheál Martin said Equality Minister Roderic O’Gorman told Cabinet he is looking at measures “to make sure that we don’t get to that situation”.

Martin added: “We’ve had situations like this last year… we managed to deal with it, but it is a challenging situation.”

On Tuesday Cabinet was informed that to date, Ireland is accommodating more than 100,000 people between those fleeing Ukraine and International Protection applicants (IPAs).

This includes over 74,000 Ukrainian people who have sought accommodation from the State and over 25,500 IPAs currently in International Protection Accommodation Service (IPAS) accommodation.

As a result of accommodation constraints, the Department said it was facing the real possibility of a shortfall in accommodation in the coming days and Cabinet was told that officials will maximise the use of available accommodation.

In a statement today, the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission noted a High Court ruling in April in a judicial review case “concerning the human rights of people arriving in the State seeking International Protection”.

That ruling found that “failure to provide International Protection applicants with material reception conditions was unlawful, and that it amounted to a breach of the applicant’s right to dignity under the Charter of Fundamental Rights”.

The Commission further notes that “failure to provide accommodation can lead to related breaches of the law with respect of the provision of material reception conditions” including food, a daily expense allowance, clothing, basic hygiene facilities and access to healthcare.

The Commission added that a vulnerability assessment must take place within 30 working days of a person stating their intention to seek asylum.

While the Commission stressed that it is “critical” that the immediate lack of shelter for newly arriving International Protection applicants is met, it added that a “medium and longer-term solution to the ongoing needs of those seeking International Protection and Temporary Protection needs to be an urgent, whole-of-government priority”.

Chief Commissioner Sinéad Gibney said: “International Protection applicants, who may have experienced persecution, trauma or destitution prior to arriving in Ireland, are among the most vulnerable members of our society.

“Any refusal of shelter by the State puts these individuals at high risk on the streets, particularly in the context of increased activity by those wishing to foment anti-immigrant sentiment.”

-With additional reporting from Christina Finn